US energy production falls in 2016
Energy production in the United States fell in 2016 for the first time since 2009, federal researchers reported Friday.
Energy production fell 4 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), thanks in part to a decline in fossil fuel production.
Renewable energy grew at a 7 percent clip in 2016, according to the report, with wind power making up nearly half of that increase.
But fossil fuel production was down 7 percent, driven in large part by falling coal use. Electricity from coal decreased 18 percent between 2015 and 2016, reaching its lowest level since 1978. Natural gas production — while down about 2 percent from 2015 — helped fuel a reduction in coal-fired power due to its low cost, EIA said.
For the first time on record, natural gas exports in 2016 exceeded those for coal, EIA said. The U.S. should become a net exporter of natural gas by 2018, the agency predicted.
President Trump this week signed an order laying the groundwork for undoing an Obama administration climate rule for power plants.
His administration has said the order is designed to help fossil fuel industries — with a special focus on coal — in the United States, but that goal still faces significant hurdles from energy market.
SNL reported Thursday, for instance, that many of the power companies aiming to retire their coal capacity within the next five years are still planning to do so, despite Trump’s order.